Chris Tindal says electing him as Canada’s first Green Party MP would change politics in Canada.
“The argument I make is that all the parties of the past have done some good in the past,” he says, “but would sending one more Conservative or Liberal or NDPer to Ottawa make any difference? Or do we want to do politics differently?
“The Green Party is particularly queer-friendly. We’re the only party to have had an openly-gay leader [Chris Lea, from 1990 to 1996]. We were the first party to support same-sex marriage in 1996. But we’re not going to rest on our laurels.”
Tindal is running in the Mon, Mar 17 federal by-election in Toronto Centre, the riding that includes the queer village. Tindal is running against Liberal Bob Rae and Conservative Don Meredith. He’s also running against NDP candidate El-Farouk Khaki, a queer immigration lawyer (see “The New Face of Canada”).
Tindal makes a point of deferring to Khaki on queer issues.
“When we’re talking queer issues and LGBT equality I’m not going to compete with El-Farouk,” he says. “My gripes are with his party. I don’t think his party has the holistic approach we need.”
Tindal says the Greens will fight for the inclusion of Canadian queers.
“I support this idea of reclaiming language when it comes to family and family values,” he says. “This community should own family values. When people say family values it should mean diverse families.”
Tindal says he’s unsure about supporting the law currently before the Senate raising the age of consent to 16 from 14, despite the support of Green Party leader Elizabeth May. But he says it’s essential to equalize consent for everybody. The age of consent for anal sex is 18.
“I know that Elizabeth May has talked about supporting raising the age of consent and she’s talked as a mother,” he says. “I’m not strongly opposed to raising the age of consent but it has to be equal. If the bill doesn’t equalize consent for anal sex, that would be a good reason to oppose it.”
Tindal says he would support NDP MP Bill Siksay’s private member’s bill to explicitly protect trans people under Canada’s hate crimes legislation.
He opposes the decision of the Harper government to take $1 million of funding from local AIDS organizations in Ontario to put toward HIV vaccine research.
“That money should have remained where it was originally allocated and where it can do the most good,” he says. “I’m often skeptical of the whole pharmaceutical industry. When you look at the amount of money going toward the AIDS vaccine that money is probably more effectively spent on treatment and prevention.”
Tindal also opposes Health Canada’s decision to ban gay men from donating organs.
“I think it’s a very hard position to justify,” he says. “They need to make those decisions on criteria that can be applied equally to all. Asking people whether they’ve had unprotected sex, those sorts of questions are more valuable.”
Tindal says Canada needs to do a better job of setting an independent foreign policy course that includes queer issues.
“I think we’ve got a big risk here as we continue to align our foreign policy with the US,” he says. “They often do not consider persecution on grounds of sexual orientation a valid reason for criticism. We need to be able to maintain policies that reflect our values.
“I think queer issues definitely need to be part of the mix. We need to communicate to the countries we have a relationship with if they have a poor record on human rights.”
But Tindal also says Canada won’t be able to address abuses in every country.
“It depends on the specific situation,” he says. “We are likely going to have to pick our battles. Some countries are going to be more receptive to our nudging them in the right direction.”
Tindal needed to be reminded of what the Court Challenges Program was, but said he opposed the Harper government’s axing of the program that provided funding for Charter challenges.
“It’s hard to keep track of the cuts,” he says. “The Charter challenges have played a crucial role in shaping this country and without funding it’s not accessible.”
Tindal says he’s enjoying the campaign and will be taking a leave of absence from his job designing web strategies for the free paper Metro. But he says it’s also creating some havoc with his personal life and his girlfriend.
“I’m engaged and getting married in July,” he says. “That’s exactly what you want to be planning in the middle of an election campaign.”